For the past eight months I’ve been practicing Hapkido at Chang’s Hapkido Academy. In that short span of time I haven’t become an expert, but I do have a deeper appreciation of the benefits of discipline and regular training, to go along with my yellow belt. Yeah, that’s right: my yellow belt.
I train twice a week. Doing something twice a week requires discipline – this has proven a challenge for me. Because it’s not just arriving that matters, I also then have to actively participate. That means be taught new things, be bad at them (and be OK with being bad at them), slowly improve, help others learn new things, do moving mediation, and generally just concentrate on one thing at a time.
The benefits of this regular practice have been bleeding over into other areas of my life; I’m realizing that it’s important to do things that make me feel good, and help me sharpen up. Hapkido does just that.
Hapkido, if you don’t know it – and many do not – is a Korean martial art that combines the straight-up strikes and kicks of Karate with the locks, holds and flips of Judo (in reality Hapkido is entirely different from Judo and Karate, but they are better known disciplines. So now you have a decent mental picture of what Hapkido is like. Even if it’s not entirely accurate).
To help, you could watch this video from Game of Death (1978) when Bruce Lee fights, and, as you might expect when Bruce Lee fights in Bruce Lee movie, defeats, Hapkido Grandmaster Ji Han-Jae.
The Road to Hapkido
When I decided to start getting martial artsy last winter I looked at a couple different schools. I was looking for one convenient for me to get to from work and home, with timings that could suit my schedule, and that I thought was cool.
I looked into Krav Maga, which appeals to me for the exact reasons that it’s not like Hapkido; as near as I can tell there is no meditation, no forms, nothing other than raw fear-instilling and brutal ass-kicking. I find that charming, but I know where I would rather be: in a supportive and controlled environment. Which is where I find myself now. I also sampled a Jeet Kun Do class, but was left less than enthusiastic. The training seemed unstructured and sort of laissez-faire. I get that in every other area of my life, and I wanted my training to be different.
So when I finally discovered Chang’s and sampled a class I knew I had found my thing. Eight months later, I know it’s been the right choice. In fact there’s lots of stuff I’ve been learning (concentration, patience, focus, dedication) that I can apply to other areas of life, like work, home, improv, and grocery store queues.
Then of course there’s the more obvious benefits of training in a martial art that can be applied to neutralize dark alley threats and execute thrilling escapades – though paradoxically, the more I study the art, the less I’m interested in that nuts and bolts of the fighting. hence the title of the post.
But more on that later, I don’t want to be late for class.